When you've made a movie like Pitch Perfect, all you really have to do to make a hit sequel is just follow the same formula, hit the same notes—you know, basically just turn the beat around.
Pitch Perfect 2 certainly pulls that off. It has all the a capella numbers, transgressive humor, and quiet self-awareness of its own absurdity that it needs to be just as fun as the first. I walked out and checked my watch, and was startled to discover it was almost two hours long. It's like a pure Red Bull shot in the arm, and that's all most viewers will want.
It was almost inevitable, though, that the sequel couldn't match its original, and this too experiences a bit of sophomore slump—largely because the plot is just all over the place. Pitch Perfect had the same skeleton as any of its music/dance predecessors, especially Bring It On: performing arts troupe of some kind is on the verge of ruin, newcomer (who is inevitably “alternative”) shows up, reluctantly joins for whatever reason, captures the heart of some sweet guy by accident, leads the group to triumph, and does all this while learning some kind of valuable lesson about how vapid girls aren't as vapid as they seem. Also, did I mention the singing and dancing?
I in fact love this genre, and have definitely seen Bring It On and Center Stage more than any other films on the planet. They provide the DNA for shows like Glee and Smash and even Empire and Mozart in the Jungle which, though they aren't outstanding TV, give us tons of wonderful cover songs to bop to on Spotify. More importantly, they continue to suggest, subversively, that the arts provide the world with way more than diversion—they give meaning ...1